Q&A: After-Hours Access

Q. We have a doorman at our condo building from 8 a.m. until midnight, and the street door is locked at midnight. Is there any regulation regarding necessary available access to the building by guests or emergency responders between midnight and 8 a.m., while the outer door is locked? 

                              —Security Conscious

A. “There are several cities and towns in Massachusetts that have local ordinances which require a lock box or Knox box be installed at certain buildings so that the police or fire department has easier access during an emergency,” says Daniel M. Lopez, an associate at the Westford, Massachusetts law firm of Perkins & Anctil. “For example, the Town of Lexington, Massachusetts has Public Safety Regulation § 178-3, which provides that Knox Company lock boxes shall be provided on all buildings or structures: (1) containing a radio master box; (2) containing a fire alarm system which is supervised and where the fire department is called upon to investigate an alarm; (3) does not apply to one- and two-family dwellings. Generally speaking, these lock boxes can only be opened by emergency personnel, are located outside of the front entrance of a building, and contain an access key to the building.

“However, each city and town has its own requirements relative to emergency access and some towns may not even have an ordinance in place relative to emergency access. If your condominium does not already have a lock box, and you are concerned about emergency access, then it may be wise to suggest the installation of a Knox lock box or lock box to the board of trustees. The purchase and installation of a lock box is relatively cheap, and some town and city websites in Massachusetts even provide a link to the following website: www.knoxbox.com.”

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